Years ago I had a conversation that reminded me of the baggage that all of us carry. It could be a lot of baggage or a little. It is the baggage from the past that often haunts our present lives and relationships. It was an individual that could not forgive themselves for their actions in the past. One of Satan’s techniques for distracting Jesus’ followers is by bringing to mind their past failures. The Bible reminds us that when a person comes to know Jesus they are made clean and free to serve Him!
There are many ways that we attempt to deal with the baggage from our past whether it was a decade ago or from yesterday. It is easy to shift the blame to the other party. If they had not (fill in the blank) then I would not have responded or acted in that way. This does not negate our responsibility however. It is also common to attempt to sweep it under the proverbial rug hoping it will go way. We do this by ignoring the offense or writing off the issue. Yet this only creates a barrier between us and others. We also can fall into the pit of blaming ourselves. I was recently humming along and this thought of a situation from my past came to mind. It would have been easy to fall into the proverbial pit of discouragement. How we handle those thoughts will determine if we are distracted or grow through the situation. I chose to bring it before the Lord which set me free to move forward.
The Bible reminds us that one of Satan’s tactics is to inject thoughts into our minds, the Bible calls them flaming darts. Just like an enemy archer sends a flaming arrow to disable the opposition Satan does the same. There are times however that the Lord reminds us of a situation that we need to deal with. I think our response needs to be the same in either situation, and that is to deal with it Biblically and move on. Many times it involves going to the person in question to make things right. This response blocks Satan’s attack, glorifies God and sets us from bondage to our past.
The first step in dealing with issues from our past begins with the Lord. The Bible reminds us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Let’s begin by bringing it to the Lord and seeking His direction.
I need to add here that not every offense needs to be addressed. There are some situations where you have been offended but you are able to cover it in love. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) There are times that someone says something about us that gets back to us. This could be a situation where you just cover it in love taking the situation into consideration. Those in leadership positions need to have a thick skin and not make these kinds of situations worse. But there are situations that need to be addressed. The danger here, however, is choosing to ignore the offense to avoid any confrontation. If you cannot let it go then you need to take Biblical action in your situation. If you keep replaying the offense like a re-run, you are unable to let it go, or you are avoiding the person, then you need to take it to the next step.
The next step is to meet with them one on one. A face-to-face conversation is always the best option is possible. Telephone calls will do in a situation when meeting in person is not an option. My personal opinion is never email or text message! It is impossible to communicate your heart adequately enough in words. Almost always the recipient reads that message differently than you intended. Usually, the use of written communication makes the situation worse.
There is more that could be said, but I want to conclude with one more Biblical insight. It is because of Jesus’ work on the Cross that we can live with a clear conscience and a clean heart! The Old Testament sacrifices dealt with the offense according to the Law, it was external, but it was through Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf that we could live with a clean conscience and serve God who changes us on the inside! This is why every follower of Jesus can live with a clean heart!
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:13–14)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson